I cant find a web site that includes the modified rules for youth soccer – e.g. substitutions – generally unlimited; allow one for one on a caution but unlimited when a player is injured etc. Everyone I ask for the modified rules in writing asks me to talk with a senior referee, however, I have to believe that somewhere they are listed.Can you help?

USSF answer (April 2, 2007):
The U. S. Youth Soccer policy manual provides:

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, the FIFA “Laws of the Game” apply to all competitions sponsored by USYSA. Players under 10 years of age may play soccer in accordance with the rules of USYSA’s Development Player Program–Modified Playing Rules for Under 10, Under 8, and Under 6.//snip//

Section 1. Except as provided by USYSA or its State Associations, substitutions shall be unlimited except where specified otherwise in the rules and regulations for a special competition.

Section 2. Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, at any stoppage in play.

Some special competitions do run slightly different rules, as provided in the policy manual. For specifics on local competitions, consult with the competition authority. Following the rules of the competition will rarely get the referee in trouble.…


I have seen lately that referees are not calling charges on the keeper inside his/her penalty area when the keeper is either attempting to control the ball or is in control of the ball. I have always been taught (over 20 years of officiating experience) that the goalkeeper cannot be legally charged inside the penalty area while in control or possession of the ball unless the keeper is playing the ball with his/her feet. I have recently been told by senior ranked (State 5 or above) referees that this is no longer the case and that the keeper may be fairly charged just like any other player on the field and does not have special privellages inside their penalty area. In reading the Advice to Referees Section 12.16 I believe it says that “While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.” I also believe I read in the Advice to Referees Section 12.23 that charging a keeper in possesion of the ball should be considered a violation of law 12 and a direct free kick awarded unless the keeper is playing the ball with his head, feet or etc… This would seem to me that nothing has changed and that charging a keeper who is not playing the ball is still illegal. Can you clarify this for me?If you have answered this previously I must have not been able to find it and would appreciate a reference where I can find this answer.

USSF answer (March 30, 2007):
No matter what you may hear from “senior ranked (State 5 or above) referees,” the facts are contained in the document you cite, the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The goalkeeper is considered to be in possession of the ball while bouncing it on the ground or while throwing it into the air. Possession is given up if, while throwing the ball into the air, it is allowed to strike the ground. As noted in Advice 12.10, handling extends from shoulder to tip of fingers. While the ball is in the possession of the keeper, it cannot be lawfully played by an opponent, and any attempt to do so may be punished by a direct free kick.

12.17 PREVENTING THE GOALKEEPER FROM RELEASING THE BALL INTO PLAY An opponent may not interfere with or block the goalkeeper’s release of the ball into play. While players have a right to maintain a position achieved during the normal course of play, they may not try to block the goalkeeper’s movement while he or she is holding the ball or do anything which hinders, interferes with, or blocks the goalkeeper who is throwing or punting the ball back into play. An opponent does not violate the Law, however, if the player takes advantage of a ball released by the goalkeeper directly to him or her, in his or her direction, or deflecting off him or her nonviolently.

12.18 THE “SIX-SECOND” RULE The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play once he or she has taken possession of the ball with the hands. However, this restriction is not intended to include time taken by the goalkeeper while gaining control of the ball or as a natural result of momentum. The referee should not count the seconds aloud or with hand motions. If the goalkeeper is making a reasonable effort to release the ball into play, the referee should allow the “benefit of the doubt.” Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match. Opposing players should not be permitted to attempt to prevent the goalkeeper from moving to release the ball into play.

12.23 CHARGING THE GOALKEEPER Referees must carefully observe any charge against the goalkeeper and call as an infringement of Law 12 only those charges which are performed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force (direct free kick), are performed in a dangerous manner (indirect free kick), or prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands (indirect free kick). Charging the keeper who is in possession of the ball must be considered an offense because, by definition, the charge cannot be for the purpose of challenging for control of the ball (see Advice 12.16). A goalkeeper can be otherwise legally charged if the ball is not in the goalkeeper’s possession (see Advice 12.16) but is being played by the goalkeeper in some other manner (e. g., dribbled at the feet, headed, etc.).

To sum it up: The goalkeeper in possession of the ball AND preparing to put it into play may NOT be charged or otherwise interfered with. However, the goalkeeper may be charged FAIRLY when both the ‘keeper and the opponent are striving for possession of the ball.

And could it be that this is what the senior referees were saying and that you might have misunderstood?…


Gentlemen, has there ever been any instructions, memo, etc., on the procedure that the referees must follow in respect to what their duties are on monitoring the handshake process that the youth players and coaches do after the game is completed?USSF answer (March 30, 2007):
Here is what the Federation has to say on the matter, excerpted from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the area of the field of play and continues until he or she has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition.

The custom of exchanging handshakes after the game is not universal practice. It is an invention of American youth soccer–and not even followed at all levels of American youth soccer. There is no accepted format.

Referees are instructed to leave the field quickly and quietly when the game has been completed. This is to avoid problems with coaches, parents, and players. If the handshake ceremony is a rule of the competition, then referees would likely have to remain behind to monitor it–but only if the rules of the competition explicitly require it.…


While reading your past answers to questions you said that if a player is more than 1 yd from the touch line during a throw-in it is a violation of the rules. Yet in the Fifa questions and answers 2006 their answer to the question “Is there a maximum distance away from the touch line from which a throw-in may be taken?” is No. Which is the correct answer.USSF answer (March 28, 2007):
You (and many others) have fallen under the spell of the written word, not taking into consideration the meaning behind it. The IFAB (the folks who write the Laws of the Game) and FIFA (the folks who administer the game throughout the world) do not always use precise terminology in either the Laws of the Game or the memoranda which support them. They are very fond of obfuscation, leaving lots of wiggle room to allow the referee to judge acts in their current context. That is why the answer in the Q&A has confused and misled you and others.

By saying, “No,” the Q&A tells us that no, there is no maximum distance, because there is only the single distance of one yard/meter from the correct point on the touchline from which the ball may be delivered and put back into play. Whether the exact distance of the point of putting the ball back into play is only one yard/meter from the actual place where the ball left the field is at the discretion and in the opinion of the referee. Both the discretion and opinion of the referee, as well as the referee’s determination of the distance, are traditional and accepted throughout the world.…


On rare occasions, a Referee commits the grievous error of not sending a player off after a second Caution. If the Referee realizes his or her error later in the match, I understand that the Referee is to go ahead and issue the Send-Off. But the situation seems to be really messy, because the officials must now deal with some complications not addressed by the Laws. I’m interested to know if USSF has any guidance on these kinds of questions:What is the status of either team’s achievements and actions during the Interval between the second Caution and the eventual Send-Off? Do all goals scored in the Interval still count? Is the twice-cautioned person still considered to be a player during the Interval? If his or her player status has changed, does that affect rulings on fouls or misconduct committed against him or her during the Interval? If either team’s achievements or errors during that Interval are canceled, does the Referee add time to compensate for what is, effectively, lost playing time?

You know, the more I think about this situation, the less I want to ever stumble into it.

USSF answer (March 28, 2007):
The answer to the first question follows from the rest.
No answer necessary.

And we agree: It should never happen, which is why all referees and ARs should keep good notes.…


I’m in a Ref class right now! What is the proper attire I need. I need Specific things (example: 3 white stripes on black socks)USSF answer (March 25, 2007):
We are amazed that the instructors have not given you the requirements for the referee uniform. That is part of the curriculum for the course.

Nevertheless, here they are, as stated in the Referee Administrative Handbook, 2006-2007, p. 34:
Standards of Dress and Appearance
Official United States Soccer Federation
Referee Uniform
GOLD SHIRT with black pinstripes (long or short sleeve)
ONE BADGE ONLY: UNITED STATES SOCCER FEDERATION Ð WITH CURRENT YEAR (Securely fastened to shirt over left chest. The badge should be for the highest grade for which the referee is currently qualified)
BLACK CUFF (on long sleeve shirt only)
(no cuffs on short sleeves)
BLACK SHORTS: Bottom edge of shorts not less than 3 nor more than 7 inches above the top of the knee-cap.
BLACK SOCKS with Federation referee crest or three stripe white top
BLACK SHOES (may have white manufacturers design) with black laces
Alternate Referee Uniforms
The following three shirts have been approved by the federation as alternates that can be worn in case of color conflict. There is no order of preference among the alternate jerseys. The other parts of the referee uniform (shorts, socks, shoes) do not change if the referee wears an alternate shirt.
BLACK SHIRT with white pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
RED SHIRT with black pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
BLUE SHIRT with black pinstripes, BLACK COLLAR, and BLACK CUFFS (on long sleeve shirts only).
Logos, Emblems and Badges: Only manufacturer’s logos and U.S. Soccer approved badges and/or emblems may be visible on the referee uniform.…


When reffing an under 6 and under 8 match, who has the kickoff the 2nd and 4th quarter?USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
USYS rules are silent on the matter of a specific restart, noting only that (small-sided) teams at these ages play quarters of equal time, 8 minutes for U6 and 12 minutes for U8. Many leagues do not treat the quarter as equivalent to a half i.e., there is no specific restart because the instructions are simply to stop play (or use a convenient existing stoppage) near the quarter time mark. If the referee stopped play, the restart would be a dropped ball, otherwise it would be based on whatever else stopped play.

If you wish a definitive answer, you might check with the competition in which you play or officiate.…


On another site, I found this “debate” and the subsequent answer by FIFA. But it seems that it is a “cart-before-the-horse” answer and may need to be further discussed. As an Instructor, I want to be clear on the proper interpretation.The question was: “Law 14 states that the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Therefore, if the ball is kicked backward or sideways, the ball is not in play and so a free-kick cannot be awarded. I have checked back as far as FIFA Q&A 1990, and until Q&A of 2005, it was always stated that the kick is retaken. From Q&A 2005 it states that an Indirect Free Kick is awarded. Would you kindly give further consideration to this question and advise me?”

Response from FIFA Referees Dept was: “Thank you very much for sending us your question. Regarding your question we would like to clarify the following:
As stated in Law 14-The penalty kick: If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs: The player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game: (this is the case). The referee allows the kick to proceed. If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restart the match with an indirect free kick…

We hope this response can clarify your question. If you have any doubt or any further question, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

My understanding, kicking the ball forward is how the ball is put back into play and isÊnot an ‘infringement’ like those in other section of Law 14 (such as encroachment, position, etc.) which would carry an IFK award. To say it is to be considered part of the IFK restarts means that the restart of a PK takes a ‘back seat’ to the infringements. ÊBut if the infringements can only occur AFTER the ball is kicked, since the law tells us that the kick is allowed to proceed BEFORE we make out decision (the ‘analysis’ past of Law 14), would this not be a re-take? If no, then is every bad kick (other than forward) now an IFK?

I say this because if, before the ball is kicked, a teammate of the kicker enters the PA but then withdraws BEFORE the ball is kicked, is it an IFK? I would say no because since the ball is not in play, the infringement was ‘corrected’ and the law is satisfied. The player realized their error and, in the spirit of the law, corrected their error. Am I splitting hairs here?

USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
We are very surprised that FIFA responded at all to this question from an unofficial source on “another site.” Anyone who has such questions should go directly to their area coordinator of instruction (if such an office exists in their state), who will take up the matter with the state director of instruction.

In point of fact, we had already answered this question, back on January 3 of this year:

In its infinite wisdom, the IFAB has chosen to set aside, at least in respect of Law 14, the tradition that an offense that occurs when the ball is not in play cannot affect the restart. For the reason for the change in the 2006 edition of the Advice to Referees, see the Laws of the Game 2006, Law 14:

If the referee gives the signal for a penalty kick to be taken and, before the ball is in play, one of the following situations occurs:
The player taking the penalty kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
A team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:
– the referee allows the kick to proceed
– if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
– if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts the match with an indirect free kick to the defending team, from the place where the infringement occurred.
//rest deleted//

We would suggest that referees not apply this procedure to any set of circumstances other than precisely those given in the Law and in the Q&A.…


I know that in most situations when cautioning or sending-off a player, the established procedure is to isolate the player, write any necessary information, administer the caution or send-off, and then display the card. I also know we make exceptions and display the card first when there is a chance of retaliation or in particularly tense situations.However, after reading Advice to Referee 3.21, I have a few other questions about carding mechanics in unusual situations: “If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.”

1: If a player is sent-off during the half-time interval (for example, in the locker rooms), do I need to require that player to return to the field so he can be shown the red card before the kick-off? If that player leaves the field and its vicinity, to whom should I display a card?

2: By tradition, referees will not show a card to a player who is injured. If the referee needs to caution or send-off a player who was injured and unable to return to play, how should he do it?

In both of these cases, can you display the card “to” some other player (for example, the captain) on this player’s behalf? Should you simply display the card “to” empty space? Should you dispense with the card entirely and simply tell both team captains (and possibly their coaches as well) what punishment has been given?

I appreciate any advice you can give for how to handle these rare situations.

USSF answer (March 22, 2007):
1. The information you cite in Advice 3.21 would apply only in higher-level games. As long as it is clear to both sides that the player has been dismissed during the interval, there is no need for the now-former player to be on the field to receive the card before the next period of play begins. In fact, it would be a bad idea from a player management point of view.

2. This “tradition” is simply that, a tradition, but it is not part of the Laws of the Game nor of any procedures recommended by the U. S. Soccer Federation. It is normal to wait for the player to rise or be carried off, but that is not a requirement. The referee should show the card as soon as it is clear that the player is leaving the field or is able to rise and continue play (provided that no trainers entered the field to apply the magic sponge).…


It seems there is quite problem [in our state] that needs a Law interpretation.The issue is simply this. If a Referee shows a yellow card to blue player #5 in the 30th minute, then shows blue player #5 a red card in the 63rd minute for a second cautionable offense, but never actually showed the second yellow card before producing the red card, is this failure of mechanics grounds for protest for the blue player to say since you did not do the carding procedure correctly then the red card can not be enforced?

I have grappled with this issue and can make valid arguments in either direction. I need something from you to solve the argument.

USSF answer (March 14, 2007):
While normal procedure is to show the yellow card first, there is no valid reason for a player to protest being sent off if the referee has failed to show the yellow card for the second caution before showing the red card for the send-off. The referee must be certain to include the matter in the match report.…